Andrew Dickens: The abuse directed at Siouxsie Wiles was clearly sexist

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 12:30PM
Dr Siouxsie Wiles has faced online abuse during lockdown. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Dickens: The abuse directed at Siouxsie Wiles was clearly sexist

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 12:30PM

Here we are on Day 1 of the July School holidays and, of course, the weather is atrocious in many places and will be all week.  As if we haven’t already been through enough in 2020.

But with holiday towns feeling the love from domestic tourism there is a feeling, which may be temporary that a new normal, related to the old normal, has returned.

If we’re employed, we’re employed.  The vast majority of us are still working. We congregate in stadiums to watch world-class sport.  We eat and drink together in crowded venues. We’re almost like we used to be, although I wonder if there is some underlying Post Traumatic Stress Disorders waiting to erupt.

In our measured calm approach to the global pandemic, kindness was a key motivating concept. But how close are some of us to resorting to the rule of the jungle.

I read Greg Bruce’s article in the Herald this weekend about the appalling social media abuse directed at Dr Siouxsie Wiles over the course of the lockdown.

Dr Wiles along with others like Michael Baker and Shaun Hendy were used by the Government and the Media to help explain the scientific thinking behind our national response.

But the response to Siouxsie Wiles comments was often extreme.

This so-called scientist, many called her.  An intellectual lemming, a nitwit.  People were claiming she had no credibility.  That she was a fake science lady.

Of course she nothing of the sort.  She is a microbiologist and infectious diseases expert.  He university education makes her better qualified on a disease like Covid 19 than any of your common or garden epidemiologists or someone like Shaun Hendy, who is, in fact, a physicist. But Hendy who was saying exactly the same thing received no abuse whatsoever.

Siouxsie Wiles was awarded the Prime Ministers Science Media Communication Prize in 2013 by John Key, she was a nominee for KiwiBank New Zealander of the Year and last year she was appointed a Member for the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to microbiology and science.

But the abuse of her intellectual credibility pales into insignificance of her personally.  As she says herself, she’s middle-aged, she’s fat and she has long bright pink hair. Cue the nastiest cruellest comments through every platform that I’m not going to repeat because I’d have to wash my mouth out with bleach to get rid of the filth.

All because she dared to be a woman with an opinion, a woman with a bright and bold personality but without having the image of ideal femininity, like Michelle Dickenson.

It revealed a deep vein of sexism that I was revolted by and I can’t understand who thinks this way. When I was younger I might have shrugged it off as the burblings of the conservative oldies who can’t handle an educated woman with dyed hair.

But the 60 and 70-year-olds that are our new oldies are not old at all and grew up through the 70s and 80s.  Siouxsie shouldn’t shock a soul.

It’s very similar as to when Taika Waititi said that New Zealand has much racism, it’s fair to say that the treatment of Siouxsie Wiles through the pandemic shows that a large number of New Zealanders are sexist as, bro, and more than proud to flaunt their ignorance and prejudices.